Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: So everybody, today we have a really exciting guest. He is a friend of one of our employees, Savannah, our designer. You’ve heard her here before. And it is Caleb Mootispaw? Did I say that right? 

Caleb: You got it. 

Julia: All right. Sweet. But he goes by “Moots.” So I’m going to introduce you to Moots. Before I do that, I want to give you a quick preview. Mootz runs a business and we’re going to talk about what that business is. And we’re going to be talking about how he’s used marketing. It’s kind of a case study of some really cool things that have happened. So, Moots, tell us about you, where you are, tell us about your business.

Caleb: Sure. I am located in a small town of Greenfield, Ohio located in Southern, Highland county, just about an hour between Cincinnati and Columbus. And I run a mobile detailing service. That’s been going on for about a year and a half now. I’ve been doing it for about two years, but have done it as a business for about a year and a half.

Julia: How did you get started?

Caleb: So Detail Dr. LLC was actually a product of the pandemic. So when the pandemic came around, I was also substitute teaching at my alma mater. And when the school year ended sooner than we expected, I had to find my summer gig and I was watching a guy on YouTube who was detailing cars and I’ve always enjoyed cleaning. So my first thought was, man, this guy’s not doing anything I can’t do. And you know, I kind of enjoy it. So, I mean, maybe we’ll give it a shot at that. So I did a couple of cars and then it just kind of took off from there. 

Julia: That is awesome. My only experience with detailing is my grandfather. Every time you’d go to his house, he decides that he wants to detail everybody’s car. But he decides to do it 30 minutes before you’re trying to leave. So it’s one of those things where we’re like, well, we’re really grateful, but we had all weekend to do this. But it’s his love language. 

So, that’s awesome. So what was your background before this? You said you were substitute teaching. Was there a different intention of what you would want to do in your career? 

Caleb: Well, I mean, I kind of always thought that I was going to be in film and media. And I did a little bit of freelance work for a while when I moved back from Kentucky. And after a while, it was getting kind of tiresome. So I wound up substitute teaching at my alma mater. I still am. This is my fifth year subbing and I’m kind of doing it on the side. And I was also a librarian for awhile, for about three years. So I’ve kind of done a little bit of everything. I’m Jack of all trade, I guess.

Julia: That’s fair. I mean, it sounds like business ownership is sticking a little bit. It’s a little bit stickier. That’s awesome. So what surprised you about starting your business? Especially starting a business at the beginning of the pandemic, it was like scary for a lot of people. So tell me about that. 

Caleb: I think what was surprising about starting a small business was the fact that, well, I was doing it. And I never had planned on starting a small business before. It was never something I had ever wanted to do. And detailing was certainly not the thing that I ever thought that I’d be getting into. In fact, I was always mostly insecure about the fact that I liked to clean growing up. That was always a running joke in the family, that you’re going to make somebody a great wife someday! So I always kind of just kind of did it as therapy. It was always just a good outlet for me. But the fact that I started doing it and it was succeeding a year later, you know, I’m thinking, wow, I’m still getting by. I’m not struggling even, necessarily. And the fact that this insecurity became a strength, you know, that it was kind of solidified that there was this part of me that was okay and was good and wanted. So it’s been a very therapeutic experience for me as well.

Julia: That’s awesome. That is so cool. It’s really cool about how new adventures, teach us about ourselves, too. It’s not just income producing. I think about the four years I’ve been in business, how much I have grown personally. That’s pretty cool.

Caleb: Yeah, I mean, cause it was never really about the business to begin with and in a way it kind of hasn’t been, it was kind of a crossroads of events leading up to me being like, something’s gotta be different than the way I’ve been doing this before, trying to balance three or four different jobs. I’ve got to do something that’s good for me. And this was just, it was just work and it was making me feel better. So I went along with it and it wound up sticking. 

Julia: That’s awesome. Well, congrats. So let’s talk about marketing strategies. Because that’s what our podcast is about, is how does marketing show up in the wild? I’d love to hear from you, how has your business grown? Has it been word of mouth? Have you used certain marketing things? Tell me about that. 

Caleb: Sure. I was never a business major or anything. So like a lot of this is probably nothing new to anybody. If I’m incorrect about anything I say, you know, please correct me.

Julia: You’re totally good. I think there’s a lot of people who start businesses and then afterwards they’re like, oh wait, I don’t know what I’m doing. So don’t worry about it.

Caleb: Yeah. It’s been a fun mix of just learning everything as we go along. So, I would say, starting out, marketing was just a lot of word of mouth. I did a few cars and then some people from my church found that I was doing it and they did a few of it. And then they started talking and social media kind of blew up. And then it just got busy with it. So I eventually produced cards that I started leaving in the cup holders of every car that I cleaned so people would have information to pass along. I would leave cards at local restaurants, local bars, different auto stores, auto parts places. A couple of car lots; I have friends that own car lots. I would leave some at their places. So I’ve had quite a few phone calls from people who said they picked it up from an auto dealer somewhere. So a lot of that practical, there were even times I would see people at the gas station and I’d just be like, “Hey, I really liked that car. I’d like to get in it sometime!” And as I’m pumping gas at the pump, I’m handing them my card and passing things along. So a lot of things like that, that I feel like I can get away with in a small town. Greenfield, it’s about a square mile town. It’s not very big, very rural.

So a lot of my marketing has been just treating people like a neighbor, I mean, being, you know, cousin Moots to everybody, which is kind of funny because it’s probably close to the truth about a cousin to everybody. 

Julia: That’s awesome. Savannah, our designer, told me something happened this year and then the community really rallied around you. Can you tell us about that?

Caleb: Wow. Yeah. So in November, my work truck was vandalized. I’ve only had the truck since last June. And it’s been a whole experiment in itself just to see how long it even goes. It’s nearly 400,000 miles. I purchased it after hearing about it over a game of cards with my high school cross-country coach. He and I still stay close friends and we play cards once a week and it was his van. So after only having the van for a few months, it was vandalized. Somebody had, overnight, smashed in the windshield and slashed three out of four of my tires.

So I was, you know, surprised, but not really shaken by it. It was one of these surprising things where I just kind of felt, I don’t know, somewhat of a peace about it. Like, well, we figured things out this far, we’ll just keep figuring it out. So I canceled that day’s plans and just started getting to work on figuring out the next steps.

And the only thing that I did that day was made a post about it. I didn’t really ask for help. I just said, “Hey, this is what happened. Just so you guys can be aware. This is something that happened.” And without me lifting a finger or even asking for help from anybody, people just started getting upset by the fact that this happened. And I woke up the next morning with $300 in my Venmo and from people out-of-state people who follow me on social media, people in town. I had a few texts from some friends who had started to GoFundMe that made about $600 or so. And then I had a friend who wanted to be anonymous, who was like, “Hey, if you just send me the size of your tires, I can have four new tires for you by tomorrow.”

So within 48 hours of it happening, people had fully funded four new tires and a brand new windshield without me even saying a word. In fact, I tried to think of a response for several days after the fact and I just could not come up with the right thing to say. How do I even respond to such, you know, generosity? But it really did validate what I was doing and made me feel good about, you know, getting involved in this, getting invested in a detailing service beause it clearly was something that people around here supportive of, I mean, we’re supportive of small business in general. So the fact that people were cheering me on in this venture, you know, really did encourage me and kind of solidified the feeling of, “Well, we’re in this, we’re doing this.”

So we got ourselves four new tires and a new windshield. And those were all things that I had actually planned on doing by the end of the year but were expedited, you know, two months ahead when it kind of happened. It was really a great experience. 

Julia: Well now you get to see how long 400,000 miles last too! 

Caleb: Yup. Yup. We’ll see if the rest of the car can hang on with it. 

Julia: But I really do think that’s a really cool, I think it’s really cool that the community rallied around you. Because clearly, if it is a small town that supports small business, that’s important, but it also speaks to, kind of what you were saying earlier, is just treating people well and really creating a name for yourself in the community, props to you. I know that that was never, it’s a by-product. It’s not like you were intentionally being like, oh, let me be nice to people so I can get something from them. But it really speaks to the heart of business ownership, is that we really want to serve people well. 

Caleb: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And it helps that I grew up with a lot of these people that I’m cleaning for now. I mean, I’m in my hometown where I grew up. So these people have known me since I was little or I’ve grown up with them. And, you know, one of the guys who wanted to help was just like, “You know, good things for good people, man. We just know who you are and wanted to help out.” So, you know, we take care of each other. It takes a village and we do that. 

Julia: That’s awesome. Well, I think it like really speaks to, in terms of Marketing in the Wild, it really speaks to the power of word of mouth, the power of kindness, and genuineness. I know that, well, first of all, I’d be curious. How many cars are you cleaning each week right now? 

Caleb: Right now I’m really only doing one car a day. Cause I tend to spend about four to eight hours on a vehicle and with the daylight hours right now, you know, at least until after daylight savings and we start getting longer days, I can generally only fit in about one car a day if I’m doing a full detail. I might be able to fit in more if it’s just an inside and outside thing.

Julia: That is dedication, Moots. I could not do what you do. I would get so bored, but that’s awesome. And so then I’m curious, what are some of your goals, like if you were to look ahead, do you have any dreams about your business or any goals with your business?

Caleb: Yeah, I’ve kind of been forced to start thinking about that the more and more that it goes on. Cause I’m thinking, well, you know, the first year was just an experiment to see what it can do. And now that I know what it could do, I’m having to start thinking ahead about where do I want this to go?

So I think in recent weeks it’s been, you know, maybe purchasing a garage, a place to work from. The winter months are my slow months, naturally, because I’m a mobile detailer and people just aren’t getting as many cars clean. So I think it would increase the business if I had a place where it was a neutral environment. So a garage shop, you know, naturally I think would be a great next step. The van was, you know, an early step and that just kind of happened. Going electric with my unit was a step in that direction as well. And all those things wound up happening way before I expected them to. So it’s, it’s hard to tell where it could go. But I’m left with a lot of decisions.

Julia: Yeah, for sure. We all are, but I’m really excited for you and then where this is going. I know earlier you said, “Hey, I’m at the beginning. I don’t really know what I’m even talking about,” but if you were to give a piece of advice to another business owner and, I’m springing this on you, everybody, he did not prepare for this, but if you were to give a piece of advice to somebody who is also either starting a business, running a business, based on your own experience, what would that be? 

Caleb: Yeah, I would say to adjust your prices based on your demographic, where you’re at, I mean, to be honest with yourself and to know your value, that’s important as well.

I mean, I think you’ll hear any business owners say that, you know, it costs this much because it’s worth it and you need to be honest with that and that’s true, but I think one of the biggest benefits to, I guess my success here locally has just been charging practical rates. I mean, we’re an hour away from the big city and so, you know, people are going to be, they’re willing to pay, but they’re not willing to pay that much. You know? I mean, it’s in a rural area. Yeah. You kind of have to find out what people are willing to pay, which means starting somewhere. So I would encourage a new business owner just to start somewhere, pick a price that is going to benefit you. I mean, don’t start out, you know, below what your worth. Give yourself a space of flexibility and allow yourself to be flexible to adjust that. So it took me, like I said, the process of a year, to just kind of start somewhere, figuring out, you know, what maybe people would pay.

One of the first cars I did, actually, I spent probably six and a half hours on it and charged, I think it was $60 maybe. And the guy told me, he said, “You know, we’re happy with your job. I mean, you couldn’t have done better. It was a great job, but next time, you know, do a $60 job because you did like $120 job here.”

Julia: That’s a good review in itself.

Caleb: I mean, so after that I wound up, a few months later, adjusting my rates and I surrounded myself with other business owners in the area who, you know, have been around, you know, that kind of ballgame before and got their thoughts on it and they said, “Yeah, you need to increase your rates. It’s time to go ahead and adjust because that you’re doing way too much work for what you’re getting paid for.” So I increased my rates and what I found out was, business increased when I did that. And I think it’s this mentality that you get what you pay for.

And so it made sense that when I finally adjusted my rates, after I realized what people are willing to pay, you know, business got better, business increased. And I felt better about the work that I did too, knowing that I’m not selling myself short and I’m not, you know, I’m going to make it.

And I’ve recently had to do that again after a year of having those rates. Just with the increased cost of expenses and fuel. I had to adjust again and it repeated itself all over again. I found after I released the new rates that people started flooding in with more and more interest.

I would definitely encourage somebody starting out with their business to just pick a starting point, but not feel like that’s where you’ve got to stay, you know. To be flexible, to adjust, make it worth your while. But stay within a reasonable boundary that your demographic will, you know, will repeatedly want that. 

Julia: For sure. Yeah, I think we’re going to have to do a whole podcast about pricing alone because it is so interesting. There is some psychology around pricing. There could be something that’s too cheap and we like doubt it because of the price that they chose. And so that is a great piece of advice.

That is super awesome that you’ve also surrounded yourself by other business owners who are in the same community, because they also are like navigating the same things. So trying to figure out how we should price per community is different too. If we have like a national chain, that’s different obviously, but like, we do have to be sensitive of our consumer too. So great advice. 

Caleb: Sure. Yeah, and it kind of goes back into that taking care of your client mentality, you know, the idea of, we’re all living together, taking care of each other. That’s how people have dealt with me when I’m purchasing a car at a local auto lot. People work with you here, they take care of each other. So with my rates, I try to take care of people. I try to take care of my clients.

Julia: Well, it sounds like you’re delivering. You’re delivering the value. So maybe if somebody wants to connect with you, how could they connect with you? 

Caleb: So I have the Detail Dr. LLC on Facebook, now! That was a step that I didn’t necessarily want to take, I don’t like having a ton of accounts, but I figured I needed to do it. So we’re on Facebook. We’re on Instagram, follow the Instagram. That’s where the before and after pictures are. And that’s where I post all the good videos and photos. So that’s where a lot of the fun stuff is. So follow me on Instagram, follow me on Facebook!

Julia: That’s awesome. That’s where people can connect with you. And, you said Greenfield, Ohio?

Caleb: Yep! Greenfield, Ohio, 

Julia: If they’re in Greenfield, Ohio, they could set up a detailing appointment with you. I, for sure, want to tell you, I do not want a before picture of my car. I’d be like, absolutely not. There’s far too many Starbucks cups, currently. Anyway, thank you, Moots, for joining us. I really appreciate hearing your story and how you’re really serving clients. I think that that is one of the best ways to market because that’s how people become raving fans. And that’s really what has happened to you in your community as they become raving fans, telling other people about you. So thank you for joining us. 

Caleb: Yeah, Julia. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.